If you are interested in some of the staked furniture I’ve been building, such as this three-legged backstool, or in making a Roorkee chair, here are the joinery tools I use.
I make no apologies for these tools. I need stuff that is durable, not only because I use it all the time but so do my students. So it has to be monkey-proof. Also, you’ll notice that I use reaming equipment with a 12° included angle. The world of chairmakers is split on what angle is best. I have found both work fine. So that’s my answer to the question: “What do you think about 6°?”
Wood Owl Auger Bits
About two years ago I switched to Wood Owl Ultra Smooth Augers after working for years with vintage augers. These Japanese-made bits are the best I’ve ever found. They cut fast and clean, and they clear chips with ease. Plus you can get them sized by 16ths. Yes, they are technically metric. No, it doesn’t technically matter.
I use the 5/8” Wood Owl in a brace to bore the initial hole for the mortise. It’s $15.95 from Traditional Woodworker.
Large Veritas Standard Tapered Reamer
This Canadian-made reamer works incredibly well in a brace, corded drill or drill press. That’s why I prefer it to Veritas’s professional reamer, which can be used only in a brace. I’ll get about a dozen chairs out of an edge before I need to stone the edge, which I do with a diamond paddle.
My only gripe about the tool is it doesn’t have to be this long – I plan to grind off the first 3/8” of the reamer for my work.
I usually drive this reamer with a heavy-duty corded drill. My second choice is using it in a brace.
Vesper Sliding Bevel
I have an incurable case of Chris Vesper Fever. He is one of the best two or three living toolmakers I’ve ever met. His stuff has the precision of Karl Holtey – and I can afford it on my salary. I use the small one for chairmaking and staked furniture because I can sneak it right up next to the auger bit or reamer. The blade of a large bevel can get in the way during these operations.
Warning: Once you buy one of his tools, you will likely buy more.
Veritas 5/8” Tapered Tenon Cutter
This is the matching tenon cutter to the reamer above. It works like a giant pencil sharpener. Simply shave (or turn) your tenon near to its finished size. Then take it for a spin in the tenon cutter and you will have a tenon that perfectly matches the tapered mortise.
The blade is easy to remove and sharpen – it’s about the size of a spokeshave blade.
These tools – or their equivalent – will get you started making almost anything with a tapered, back-wedged joint. As Master Kenobi said: “You’ve just taken the first steps into a larger world.”
— Christopher Schwarz